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Essential information about applying for a passport

SmarterTravel

The bulk of passport applications are submitted just before the summer travel season. Below, find essential information about what you’ll need before applying.

Documentation and fees

If it’s your first passport, you must apply in person at a passport acceptance facility, which include post offices and libraries. Bring form DS-11, two recent 2×2 color photos of yourself, proof of citizenship, and a valid photo ID. You can get passport photos at stores like CVS or Kinko’s. You’ll be charged a $75 application fee and $25 execution fee. If you apply at a regional passport agency, the payments can be combined, but if you apply at a passport acceptance facility, you must make two separate payments.

You must also apply in person if your passport was lost or stolen, if your last passport was issued more than 15 years ago, or if your previous passport was issued when you were under age 16.

In most situations, passports can be renewed by mail, provided your most recent passport is available and undamaged, you were over 16 when it was issued, and you have the same name or can legally document your name change. Fill out form DS-82, and mail it in a padded envelope to the address listed on the form, along with two passport photos, your old passport, and a $75 check.

Processing times

Currently, the processing time for both first-time applications and renewals is four weeks. If you need your passport earlier, expedited service costs an additional $60 and will ensure you receive it within three weeks.

If you’re traveling within two weeks (and can prove it), make an appointment at your nearest regional passport agency, which will help you get your passport in time. If no regional office is near you, contact the National Passport Information Center.

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